The Weather Channel
Debris From Japan Tsunami Is Floating Toward The U.S. Coast
By Terrell Johnson Published: Nov 6, 2013, 0:13 PM EST weather.com
At Sea, Aboard The U.S.S. Preble
An aerial view of debris from the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck northern Japan, taken on March 11, 2011. The debris was inspected by a helicopter-based search and rescue team from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. (U.S. Navy)
Somewhere out in the Pacific between Hawaii and the West Coast, massive amounts of widely scattered debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami are slowly drifting toward the U.S., carrying with it tons of potentially toxic junk and non-native creatures clinging alongside.
The result of a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of northern Japan in March 2011, the debris was unleashed when the tsunami washed an estimated 5 million tons of it – including everything from boats and household appliances to wood planks and soccer balls – into the ocean.
While about 70 percent of it sank to the bottom of the ocean just off Japan’s coast, the remainder (about 1.5 million tons) drifted out into the Pacific and pieces of it have been spotted washing up along the U.S. coastline ever since, everywhere from the islands along the Gulf of Alaska to San Diego, Calif.
Updated Nov. 6: NOAA issued a news release yesterday to dispel rumors that a solid “island” of debris was headed for the U.S. coast:
“There is no solid mass of debris from Japan heading to the United States,” NOAA said in the release.
“At this point, nearly three years after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, whatever debris remains floating is very spread out. It is spread out so much that you could fly a plane over the Pacific Ocean and not see any debris since it is spread over a huge area, and most of the debris is small, hard-to-see objects.”
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Skipper John Sangmeister talks to CNN about hitting debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami during the Transpac Yacht Race. More from CNN at http://www.cnn.com/